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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM


We all have our own personal benchmarks when it comes to trusting technology. It's that moment when we may hesitate, if not refuse, to perform a function electronically by weighing the convenience over the possible negative consequences. Sometimes the decision is based on simple fear of the unknown, sometimes on real, deep-rooted experience or concern. I refuse direct deposit of my paychecka laughable decision for many, but hey, that's my personal comfort level. Others are understandably wary of shopping online. How often have you wondered if your mobile phone conversation was secure? Headlines remind us all too often that blind trust and online friendships can have serious consequences. Yet as we forge ahead ever carefully in this digital domain, privacy advocates caution we are kissing that constitutional right goodbye with pretty much every online move we make. Have I become my social security number? If so, should I dare enter it electronically and hope the system on the other end doesn't abuse its new knowledge of me?

It's no wonder that the quality of trust, so intrinsically entwined in most business and social relationships, is eroding as more of these associations are established online. Still, to grow, prosper, and live in a digital environ, we must maintain, perhaps rebuild, a trusting relationship among businesses, consumers, and individuals. To do that, we must confront those barriers to trust and create tools, systems, and interfaces that will help restore our faith in the process. Our special section this month, spearheaded by Senior Editor Andy Rosenbloom, explores the fine line between risk and reward in online interactions. The authors here are some of the leading thinkers and creators of the tools and interfaces needed to enhance the level of trust we all should demand. We hope you find their ideas insightful and their solutions a comfort.

We could not do our job without the generous trust and support of our readers, authors, and reviewers. As we come to the close of another year, we offer our sincere appreciation to all who have worked so tirelessly to make the content quality so memorable and, hopefully, so valuable over the last 12 issues. In this regard, may I express a personal debt of gratitude to Tom Lambert, Andy Rosenbloom, Bob Fox, Caren Rosenblatt, and Lynn D'Addesio-Krausan editorial, art, and production team who, in my opinion, do the work and have the energy of a staff 10 times its size. Each final product is a credit to their talents and a symbol of their devotion to this magazine and its readers.

A happy, healthy New Year to you and yours.

Diane Crawford,

©2000 ACM  0002-0782/00/1200  $5.00

Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee.

The Digital Library is published by the Association for Computing Machinery. Copyright © 2000 ACM, Inc.


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